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Ample Stocks Restrain European Gas Prices

Imports also keeping pressure on natgas prices


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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that natural gas prices at the United Kingdom’s National Balancing Point (NBP) trading hub were US$7.50/MMBtu in late May, a sustained low not seen since late 2010.

EIA said European gas storage levels were low heading into the 2013-14 winter but mostly recovered to normal levels by the beginning of 2014. Then Europe experienced an unusually warm winter.

Austria had its second-warmest winter on record in 247 years. Germany, the largest consumer of natural gas in Europe, had its fourth-warmest winter on record since 1881. The United Kingdom experienced its fifth warmest since 1981.

As a result, European gas storage at the end of March (the end of the withdrawal season) was 45% full out of a total capacity of 2.7 Tcf (76 x 106 m3), compared to 24% in 2013 and a 40% average for the past four years.

EIA said imports also are applying pressure on prices. Pipeline shipments from Russia have continued without interruption and mild weather in Asia has pushed more liquefied natural gas spot cargoes into Europe.

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